Quick, what should you do after a workout? if you answered rest, that’s a good one. You might have said hydrate, which is important too. A lot of bodybuilders, weightlifters, and fitness experts will recommend that you eat after you work out.
What happens if you don’t eat after a workout? Knowing the health problems that can be caused by not eating after a workout can help you to better understand why many fitness experts recommend you eat something after your session. There are specific foods they suggest you eat to help with recovery and muscle development, and we will talk about all that below.
You Will Feel Tired and Groggy
What happens if you don’t eat following your workout? If you’re like most people, and your workout was kind of strenuous, you can feel very lethargic. Your body can feel tired and sluggish, making it difficult to move. You may have lost motivation to do much of anything and feel like just taking a rest. This isn’t simply the workout tiring you out. There’s more going on than that.
What’s likely happening is that you have low blood sugar. Your body needs more sugar in order to function like it should, and it feels like it’s out of energy. If you’re feeling so tired after a workout that you want to sleep, and it’s nowhere near your regular bedtime, you probably have low blood sugar.
You can fix this by having a quick snack. It may not take very much, and just a piece of fruit, some granola, yogurt, or anything with a little sugar in it can pep you up. Why go around feeling like you’re going to collapse when all it takes is a little bit of food to get you back into an active mood?
Poor Muscle Recovery
A lot of fitness a diet experts will recommend that you eat protein after you work out. What is this? What happens if you don’t eat enough protein after a workout?
Protein is important for developing muscles. If you’re working out, you’re working the muscles, and they need to be able to grow naturally as a result of the workout. Feeding your body protein after a workout ensures that your muscles will grow and develop and that you’re getting the most out of the workout.
Protein is also important for muscle recovery. In the hours and even the day following your workout, you need to be getting enough protein. This helps to provide nutrients for the muscles that they need in order to recover from the strenuous activity.
What happens if you don’t eat enough protein the day after a workout? Your muscles can feel sore and overly tired. They may not repair themselves the way they should, leading to muscle injuries. You may find that the next time you work out, your muscles are aching and unresponsive. They didn’t get the nutrients they needed when those nutrients were required, and your muscles are suffering as a result.
That’s why it is so important to eat properly following a workout- not just in the hours after your workout but even the next day. Depending on how long your workout was and strenuous it was, you may need to have quite a bit of protein in your post workout meals. For less intense workouts and short sessions, you can keep your protein to a minimum.
What Should You Be Eating?
If you’re going to eat right after a workout to replenish your body’s fuel, you should know what kind of foods do that best. We’ve talked about sugar and protein already, but there’s one more food group your body is going to benefit from after a strenuous workout.
That’s carbohydrates, which supply long term energy to the body. After you’ve put your muscles through the paces, you probably will need energy for the rest of the day, and carbs provide that for you.
Those are the important food groups to focus on post-workout, and there are some nutrients your body will need as well. You need to replace the electrolytes in your body. As you sweat, your body will use up electrolytes and your muscles and nervous system will need that to function properly. You can get this from salt, energy drinks, and other foods that provide electrolytes. Your body also needs calcium and potassium. Bananas are probably the best source of potassium, and most dairy products contain plenty of calcium.
Where should you get protein and sugar from? If you’re trying to build muscle, lose weight and look fit, you want to be careful about the foods you eat. You may already be on a diet, but if you’re concerned about where to get sugar and protein from, we’ve got you covered.
Healthy, lean sources of protein include legumes of all kinds, eggs (boiled rather than fried), and lean meat (turkey and chicken).
There are some healthy sources of sugar you can add to your diet as well. Fruit is a great source of sugar and is packed with nutrients. Look for low fat snacks that have nutritional value and are not made with a lot of preservatives and man-made components. You want something that adds value to your body and your diet rather than something that’s just straight sugar or something made from potentially harmful chemicals.
Don’t Forget to Hydrate
We’ve talked about food and how you should eat certain kinds of food after you work out. You don’t want to forget about hydration, though. A workout can cause you to sweat and lose a lot of water your body needs. You need to replenish that supply by drinking plenty of water following a workout. How much you should drink will depend on how much you sweat and when the last time was that you took a drink.
You may not want to add on a bunch of water weight, so don’t overdo it with the water, but you should hydrate enough to where you’re not feeling thirsty anymore.
There is nothing more important for your body after a workout than water. Make sure you don’t skip hydrating following a workout. Your body needs that in order to function properly, and severe water loss and dehydration can cause not just short term health problems but long term ones as well.
If you make it a habit of not hydrating properly after your workout, you may experience some serious health issues over time. You may have difficulty working out and experience severe pain throughout your muscles.
It’s best if you bring a bottle of water with you to the gym so you can hydrate immediately following your workout. If you don’t, it can be dangerous even to drive or walk back home. You may have trouble focusing or keeping your balance. That’s how essential it is to hydrate after a workout.
I hope you can see now how important it is for you to eat something after you work out. This is especially true of a lengthy, intense workout. While workouts can be very healthy for you, they can also rob your body of a lot of nutrients another essential components that it needs. You need to replenish some of those.
You can do that in a way that won’t make you flabby or unhealthy. If you don’t refuel properly after workout, there are all sorts of potential symptoms you could go through. It’s not a bad idea to keep a snack packed in your gym bag or just plan to get something to eat following your workout and shower.